Don Edwards Literary Memorial

May 16, 2006

On Grading our lives

Good morning, LeRoy, the usual splendid day in Lake Chapala, around 75 degrees, slightly misty over the lake, probably going up to a whopping 85 degrees this afternoon, mist gone, cool breeze coming off the lake in the evening.

Now that you mention it, of course all our lives are graded in the “incomplete” category, and having rethought my life it goes something like this. I chose a profession requiring completeness, but I think you did too in a sense.

The differences are many, however. My profession had project after project defined by studies, operational guidelines, specific objectives, technology tools, etc. You had to complete each project. Of course, some projects were incorrectly defined so the customer wouldn’t pay you or there needed to be a “Phase 2” to correct things. But by and large, very well defined, in fact many jobs I had were to do the definition….perhaps needs a little essay all by itself sometime.

And yours, on the other hand, had no blueprints, written guidelines, procedure documents, technology attributes….just a vague, but valuable objective: to help the farmworkers, to get Jerry Brown elected, to give hope and resources to poor and homeless people, to get rid of the fucking parking lot which has transformed William Land Park.

So there can’t be an end to most of these things, but I think they can be graded. How many projects you have written about while with Cesar were complete? I give my professional life a B+ because I can measure it a little. I was a very good engineer. I give your career a much higher grade, perhaps like an essay question on a history exam, it can only be graded subjectively. You are much more in line with St. John Baptist de la Salle than I, though I participated in the Civil Rights movements and spent a lot of time developing computer software for K-12 classrooms.

Be easier on yourself. You get probably all grades: you try something involving William Land, and I give you an A for organizing and hasseling the city officials. It is “incomplete” but if you are still alive in 2007, those officials who don’t follow through are going to be very unhappy once you get involved again.

As for the Farmworkers era, I’m sure you get “F” for some things which didn’t get accomplished, “C” for some which didn’t meet your expectations (called “objectives” in engineering terms) and “A+” for forcing some powerful organization to do somethings they were never going to do without your involvement. And of course you get a virtual “incomplete” as far as the eventual result of fair treatment for immigrants, farm workers and homeless.

So did Jesus, for that matter, and I give Him very high grades for trying.

My best,


Filed under: DON POSTS — Don @ 2:04 pm

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